Sunday, February 17, 2013

The End of the Helmet

The helmet became part of our lives back in September. We knew Theo had a flat head from all his sleeping (good boy!!) but it was pretty bad - his profile was starting to look like that of Stewie from Family Guy. Ok, maybe not quite that bad, but he clearly had plagiocephaly (flat head) and his head was measuring in at 103%.  Our pediatrician confirmed we should get an appointment with the Dr. at Children's Hospital and he too recommended a helmet as course of action. While considered cosmetic, the biggest impact was in the future if Theo decides to play sports that require a helmet. Because of the way his head was shaped, he'd need a helmet in a bigger size to accommodate the width of his head, but it would be loose front to back, thus not offering protection from contact. 

For reference, 100% is a round head - which isn't actually the ideal - most people  have somewhere in between 90-92%. So 103% was far off from where we needed to be. The folks at Nopco said we'd be good if we hit 92% but that it would be tough to get it all filled back out. He had to wear the helmet 22 - 23 hours a day. He would get a break in the morning and one again in the evening. 

In September, Theo was fitted and measured for his helmet. Here he is getting fitted for his helmet. The prosthetists at Nopco Burlington (and at Children's) were awesome. We had such a great experience. 

We were a little uncertain how the 23 hours/day were going to work for him. The time off was really for wiping down the helmet with alcohol cotton balls & sanitizer and letting it air out a bit. (By the end, despite our diligence, it really did smell like hockey equipment & his hair had an interesting tinge to it.) Because of the length and amount of hair Theo has, we had to wash it every night and make sure it was dried before popping the helmet back on. 

But he was a trooper. It became the new normal for him with in a matter of days. It was actually great - as he learned to sit and crawl, we didn't have to worry about the nasty falls on the hard wood floors that were inevitable. 

It also provided extra warmth on those chilly days! Best of all, it was the ultimate protection from cranky big sisters. :) 

We had check ups with our rockstar prosthetist Katie every two weeks. This was a bit of a pain, but because he was growing so much during this time, we had to make sure the helmet had all of the proper adjustments to give him a good chance to round out. Dave and I divided and conquered on the appointments, which made it doable. Katie could predict his upcoming growth spurts as well, which was awesome knowledge to have.                            
I was initially worried about what other people would think or say. But throughout the entire time, people were nice, inquisitive (but very respectfully so), and commiserated. The best was when an older person mentioned their grandchild had one too!

Sophia would often wear her bike helmet in solidarity with him, which was adorable. She liked to point out the animals on the helmet (we actually got it more for her to like it because, well, Theo certainly couldn't see it!)

There was one time we were in Trader Joe's that Sophia mentioned in her loud toddler voice, "Mama - that baby has a helmet...Just Like THEO!" I saw the mom react to the first part of the statement and then smile when she heard the end and saw Theo and I close behind. 

Finally, after 5 months of wearing the helmet religiously, Katie, gave us the green light for removal. Theo's head measured out at 90.2% - far beyond our expectations.  There is a still the tiniest "dent" on his back left that basically only Dave & I can feel/notice because we're hyper-aware of where he started and how it changed. Overall, we are so thrilled with how it turned out. We got scans comparing the before & after that are in his baby book and are fascinating to see. Here's our happy, helmet free man! 

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